Disputed Verses and their Answers

Introduction: What saith the Scriptures?

Just as with our Objections and Answers article we shall adopt the same principle of seeing what the Holy Scriptures teach us in a contextual, literal and grammatical way compared to the humanistic and sometimes philosophical teachings of men.

The following 3 verses or passages are generally the most disputed and so we shall limit this article to these for the sake of brevity and space.

They are in order – The Virgin Birth, The Suffering Servant passage and The Crucifixion.

1st Disputed Verse – Isaiah 7:14 – The Virgin Birth.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

OBJECTION – The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an ‘almah’ as giving birth. The word ‘almah’ has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as ‘virgin’. This accords Jesus’ birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.

ANSWER – If we are to understand this Hebrew word ‘almah’ then we must use the grammatical rule of exegesis and go to the Hebrew language to see what it literally means within its various scriptural settings.

The prophet Isaiah could have used three words in this verse – Almah, Betulah or Na’a’rah. All three can be used to describe a woman or virgin as we shall now see:-

ALMAH – This word in used seven times within the Scriptures but not once is it used to describe a married woman. The word ‘almah’ therefore means a young woman, a virgin or a virgin of marriageable age.

The 7 times that the word ‘almah’ is used within the Tanakh are listed below for the reader’s perusal.

1. Genesis 24:43. It is being used here of Rebekah, a young woman who was obviously a virgin before being given in marriage to Isaac.
2. Exodus 2:8. Here the word is used in reference to Miriam as a virgin. (The sister of Moses).
3. Psalm 68:25. Now almah is used in the context of the royal procession of young women (who are virgins) before the King.
4. Proverbs 30:1. The word almah is used in verse 19 to show a virgin in contrast to an adulteress in verse 20.
5. Song of Solomon 1:3. Almah is used to describe young women or virgins in the context of their love and purity before marriage.
6. Song of Solomon 6:8. The word almah is now used to describe young women (virgins) without number.
7. Isaiah 7:14. In context therefore, the young woman, being a virgin, is to bear a son. Why should this verse be different in context and grammar than the previous six stated verses? Unless one wants to deny the meaning given!

BETULAH – This is the word that is normally used to mean a virgin. So the argument normally put forward is that if Isaiah wished to show a virgin in chapter 7 verse 14 he would have used the word ‘betulah’. But this is not literally nor grammatically always the case within the Hebrew Scriptures as we are discovering. The word ‘almah’ meaning a young woman or young women used in the 7 verses above shows us in context that they were all virgins.

1. Genesis 24:16. In this verse its meaning is clearly a virgin.
2. Joel 1:8. However, in this verse the word is used to show us a widow!
3. Judges 21:12. The word is used in the same context as in Genesis 24:16 but we should note that in both cases the expression ‘had not known a man’ is used to clarify and clearly show the contextual, literal and grammatical meaning.

NA’A’RAH – This word means a young unmarried woman normally. But again the word is used twofold as the Hebrew Scriptures show.

1.1 Kings 1:2. Here it is signifying a virgin but in
2. Ruth 2:6. The meaning is towards a non-virgin.

In conclusion then ‘almah’ must mean an unmarried woman or virgin within the context of Isaiah 7:14. Why? Because if G-d was promising us a sign then it becomes unthinkable that G-d would be promising a sign that would have to involve fornication and illegitimacy. Sexual intercourse is to be reserved for the marriage bed, not before! The young woman has therefore got to be a virgin otherwise G-d would be sanctioning sin and that is something He grieves deeply over. This is why we need a Saviour, a kinsman Redeemer and High Priest who has become our kaporah and salvation unto eternal life. Y’shua clearly tells us that no one goes to the Father except through Himself.
Please read John 14:6 for yourself and then receive Him as your personal Saviour for Jew or Gentile. This is His mandate as Isaiah 49:6-7 clearly shows us. We should not doubt but by faith receive Him.

Finally, the pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods goes back deeper into history that just the 1st century. So where there is truth in G-d’s Word so there is error within the world as it wishes to go its own way!

2nd Disputed Verse/Passage – Isaiah chapter 53 – The Suffering Servant

OBJECTION – Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the ‘Suffering Servant.’
In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews (Israel) are regarded as one unit. The Torah is filled with examples of the Jewish nation referred to with a singular pronoun. Ironically, Isaiah’s prophecies of persecution refer in part to the 11th century when Jews were tortured and killed by Crusaders who acted in the name of Jesus. From where did these mistranslations stem? St. Gregory, a 4th century Bishop of Nanianzus wrote: “Some unintelligible words or unfamiliar terms is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire!”

ANSWER – It is not that a little jargon (mode of speech full of unfamiliar terms) is necessary to fool people but a lack of scholarly work or reading, and then sadly, the writings or opinions of others being imposed upon those who look to leaders for direction! No wonder the prophet Hosea wrote on behalf of the Lord in chapter 4 verse 6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Chapter 52 of Isaiah does indeed show the exile and redemption of the Jewish people but through their Messiah as the subject matter changes in the last three verses to The Servant of the Lord, our Messiah. Isaiah 53 as the redemption chapter has 12 verses and there are 12 Tribes, there are no coincidences in these things.

If we would care to read the verses our self we would count over 20 personal pronouns.
Secondly, when has Israel (which incidentally to this day is still seen as two houses until the symbolic and prophetic sticks are joined together as written of in Ezekiel to make her one nation again before the Lord G-d) ever been written of as the Saviour of the World. In some ways she failed G-d in being a light to the nations as instructed. Even today missionary work or evangelism is not normally a facet of Judaism. The Church or Messianic Community is doing the work of the Lord as instructed. Therefore Romans 11:11 is being fulfilled before our very eyes and His!
Thirdly, when we search out the verses we find in Isaiah 43:10 that G-d does indeed show us Israel as His servant, but as witnesses to Him being the one and only God, when we once again use the context rule of exegesis (What is being said and to whom).

Isaiah 43:10. “Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe Me, that I AM He: before Me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after Me.

Verse 12 once again establishes the nation of Israel to show the Gentile nations that there is only one God. That she has done and we bless her for it through preserving and giving the Holy Word of The Lord G-d Almighty to those who will believe.

In contrast Isaiah 42:1-7 shows us The Servant of the Lord with His mission and mandate to be a Light to the Gentiles. Isaiah 11:10 tells us the Gentiles will seek after the Root of Jesse. Ask yourself, which Jew have the Gentiles sought after? Isaiah 49:6-7 shows us this Servant (spoken of as an individual, personal pronouns are Thou and Thee) will be used by G-d to bring back the House of Judah and the House of Israel to Himself and that also the Messiah (the Suffering Servant) will be ‘the Light’ and ‘the Redeemer’ of the Gentile Nations.

When we use the grammatical, literal and most importantly the contextual rule of exegesis we cannot but fail to see that Isaiah 53 is speaking of an individual and not the nation of Israel. Indeed, several rabbis I am in contact with have in the last few years conceded this point. This is progress indeed but at a cost as we do indeed bear the stigma of anti-Semitism towards G-d’s chosen people – Yisrael ahuvi. It is the intention of this writer and those within Sulam Ya’aqov to be a blessing and a friend towards His People in these last days before His awesome return to rescue, redeem and restore Israel to His Land. We would direct the reader to two other sections at this point. They are on the main page of this web site – ‘Israel’ and ‘Yeshivah Studies’. Please read the prayer within the ‘Israel’ section and then go on to the study entitled Isaiah 53 – The Forbidden Chapter within the ‘Yeshivah Studies’ for a fuller explanation and understanding of Isaiah 53 – The Suffering Servant. Amen.

3rd Disputed Verse – Psalm 22:16 – The Crucifixion.

“For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.”

OBJECTION – The verse in Psalm 22:16 reads within Jewish Bibles as “Like a lion, they are at my hands and feet.” The Hebrew word ‘ki-ari’ (like a lion) is grammatically similar to the word ‘gouged’. Thus Christianity reads the verse as a reference to crucifixion – “They pierced my hands and my feet.”

ANSWER – The verses before and after are what we must focus on first of all. This gives us the context of what the psalmist David is foretelling us. Contextually then, what we read is a description of the Messiah being crucified. King David wrote this prophetic word for the Lord hundreds of years before Yeshua (Jesus) was hung on the cross. The verses around verse 16 are extremely accurate and detailed in showing the painful experience of being pinned to a tree, to hang and suffer until death!

Verse 13 – “They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.”

The prophet is using symbolic visionary language here and we should note he sees the people around the suffering one as a lion!

Verse 14 – “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

The language is more intense now and more descriptive. The person suffering here is dehydrating at an alarming rate, his bones are out of joint which is exactly what happens when someone is suspended from a cross and has to bear most of their body weight from the arms and shoulder joints. The pain is excruciating and slowly but surely the bones are pulled away from the joint and cartilage. It is like being on a rack and slowly pulled apart! No wonder then that scholar and layperson alike read these verses and have commented (in context) on them as describing Messiah’s death on the execution stake.

Verse 15 – “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws: and Thou hast brought me into the dust of death.”

The condemned person was not allowed any water and so was left to hang in the sun for hours on end which soon drains the energy from the human body. On top of this Yeshua had been flogged viciously by the Roman authorities prior to being taken to be crucified.

The interesting thing to note in this verse is the statement ‘Thou hast brought me into the dust of death.’ Our key word here is Thou, and obviously the Lord G-d is in view here.
When we do a drash (to search out) within Midrash to illustrate and illuminate any verse we find a remarkable statement from Elohim regarding His ‘anointed One’ spoken of in –
Zechariah 13:7 – “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts: smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn Mine hand upon the little ones.”
The Lord of Hosts is speaking here. Notice how the Shepherd (another title of the Messiah) is to be struck! By Who? By the Lord of Hosts! Secondly, this man is His fellow! This is an incredible statement by G-d that He sees the Shepherd or Messiah as His counterpart – one who is equal or His contemporary – of the same class. (This is what the Oxford dictionary defines ‘a fellow’ as being in grammatical language). Further to this we then have confirmation of this when Yeshua tells us that, “I and My Father are one” in John 10:30. We should also note that Jesus has already stated, “I AM the good shepherd” in verse 11 of the same chapter. When we search the scriptures together seeking out the whole counsel and meaning of G-d’s Word we can come to accept the plain meaning – the p’shat within Midrashic exposition.

In conclusion, we must surely now agree, that when a lion has gouged anyone with its claws they will have pierced the actual body part just as a nail will when it is literally hammered down into soft flesh! The prophet is using symbolic language to describe something G-d is showing him and so we are happy to agree that the Hebrew word ‘ki-ari’ (like a lion) is grammatically correct, as it fits into the context of verse 13 which states ‘as a ravening and roaring lion’ which is then in turn in context with verse 16, where the actual word is used – ‘like a lion, they are at my hands and feet.’

There is then no deception here, no twisting of the verse (words) to make it fit the crucifixion scene. The verse was given a more understandable rendering and valid interpretation to show the reader the clearest picture of an extremely accurate prediction of Messiah’s death. When we read verses of Psalm 69 we again are given a picture of the crucifixion scene. Indeed scattered throughout the Psalms and the Prophets are depictions of The Suffering Servant our Messiah. If we become seekers and searchers of the truth, then the truth will set us free as Yeshua stated it would. Shalom.

Date : 30/11/-0001    

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